Obese children have to face a lot of flak and jeering from children at school and at play. The physical state of their health might not be such a big problem for children compared to the teasing, criticism and social discrimination they face. This kind of psychological trauma can have both short and long-term effects on a child’s tender mind. There seems to be a stigma attached to obese children by their counterparts where apart from being bullied they are isolated too.
Obese children find it hard to make friends as they seem to be different from others and become somewhat of an outcast in the community or school. This altered behaviour from peers leads to anxiety, low self-worth and depression. These problems can flare up to suicidal thoughts or tendencies and eating disorders. Stigma related to childhood obesity can also affect when the child grows up, if he/she continues to be obese, there are problems in adjusting to a workplace and finding a companion. Parents can considerably reduce the psychological impact of obesity on their children by talking to them.
Overweight children tend to not perform well in their studies due to the continuous ridicule they are subjected to. These kinds of behaviour from peers affect their everyday life where concentration becomes difficult and a generally laid-back attitude is observed.
Obese children are made the target of peer aggression where they are not only isolated but subjected to verbal and physical bullying. Name-calling and being shoved around is common behaviour in small school children which can be extremely distressing for the child. Children who face this kind of bullying have difficulty in socializing and are prone to destructive behaviours like suicidal thoughts, promiscuity and substance abuse. Obese children have a poor self-image which is coupled with unhealthy habits like crash dieting or binge eating.
Overweight children also find it embarrassing and difficult to be a part of their school activities as they are made fun of their body image. Participation in games and other co-curricular activities are not without any discrimination from the peers which results in a dejected mood.
A school life is all about friendship, competition and challenges which an obese child is unable to experience because of the social discrimination he/she faces. It is important for the parents to be continuously supportive and encouraging for the child to continue his/her normal life. Apart from making efforts to improve the “weighty” issues of your child through diet and exercise, continue to push him/her to go beyond his comfort area.